Miss Padfield and Mrs Freeman Visit Kenya
Mrs Freeman and I have been very fortunate in being given the opportunity to travel to Kenya as a part of the ‘Connecting Classrooms Global Education Programme’.
Why Take Part?
As written on the British Council’s website, we have taken part in this programme as it ‘equips students with a deeper understanding of:
- other countries and cultures
- their rights and responsibilities as global citizens
- the skills needed to work in a global economy and build a fairer, more sustainable world.
Teachers also benefit from:
- gaining understanding of other countries' education systems
- being better equipped to teach about global issues
- improving their own teaching skills.’
We started our adventure by flying from London City airport to Nairobi in Kenya. It took a very long time to get there, over 10 hours of flying!!! When we got to Nairobi, we had to go on a very bumpy minibus ride to the village of Chagoria, which took another 4 hours! When we arrived at The Shamba (the place where we were staying) we had a quick change of clothes and then were whisked away to the grand opening of a new children’s ward which had been built and funded by members of the Dorset and Weymouth local communities. It was a wonderful occasion and the new centre will bring health care and hope to many Kenyans who would not have had it beforehand.
Monday was our first day at The Wise Shepherd Mount Kenya Academy School. We travelled by minibus and arrived just after 8am. The children were having an assembly outside and were reciting verses from the Bible. We were then introduced to all the children and they were very excited to meet us! The teachers were all very welcoming and couldn’t wait to get to know us better over a hot cup of Kenyan tea. Then we went into the reception class with Teacher Joyce. She showed us some of her teaching strategies and we watched some of the class’s daily routines. Then Miss Padfield taught the children phonics using some of the techniques and resources that she uses with her own class back in England. The Kenyan children loved seeing the colourful letter posters and had fun copying the actions for each of the letters.
We then spent time visiting preschool, class 1, class 2 and class 3 and watching the teachers in each of the classrooms. The head teacher, Mrs Maweti, then asked us if we could teach some science, RE, maths, art, PE and more phonics throughout the rest of the week. We were delighted!
At lunch time we were invited to eat with the teachers and spent time chatting and sharing information about life in our different countries. The teachers wanted to know loads about the children and teachers at Frome Valley and what sort of things we do. We talked to them about what sorts of lessons we taught in school, about our school field, playground and play trail and our lovely school hall. They couldn’t believe all of the lovely things we have at our school. We also showed them the video of Frome Valley children singing the ‘Amani Utupe’ song. They thought it was amazing and they all had tears in their eyes because they were so happy to see everyone back here in England.
After lunch we carried on watching a few literacy and maths lessons in the older children’s classes. We couldn’t see the preschool and reception children as they had a long sleep in the afternoon. Some children had a little mattress on the floor in their classrooms but most of the children slept with their head resting on their desk.
At the end of the day the children are given a cup of tea and then wait for their parents to come and collect them or they start to walk home, as many of them walk to and from school on their own.
On Tuesday, we started the day by teaching phonics and mathematics in reception class. We then went around each class during the day with our paints and paintbrushes (kindly donated by our PTFA). Preschool and reception had a go at painting pictures and doing hand printing. The other three classes had a go at painting the Kenyan flag and local wildlife found in their country. Many of the children had never used paints before and were absolutely thrilled by the experience.
Wednesday was much of the same. We taught science, mathematics and religious education in all of the classrooms. We made sure that the lessons were very practical and hands-on as this is not a teaching style much used in their school. The children were very excited and really engaged in the lessons.
On Thursday, we were told that they children were having their PE lesson. As there is little space on the school compound, we had to trek over a mile up Mount Kenya to reach an open plain in which the PE lesson took place. It was very, very hot but the children were so happy to be able to run around, play football and do lots of exercises. We taught them the ‘bean game’ and we all did the ‘hokey cokey’ together, which they all thought was hilarious. In the afternoon, the schools’ manager invited us to visit her house nearby so we went to have a look and learn more about the foundations of the Wise Shepherd Academy. The manager was so thankful to have us with her and is so grateful that her school is linked with Frome Valley.
Friday was our last day in school and what a special day it was. It began with a beautiful whole school assembly, during which we were honoured to listen to the nation anthem sang amazingly well by all the children and teachers. It was a lot of singing and dancing and was a truly uplifting start to the day. We then headed off on our trek to a stunning Kenyan waterfall. The teachers explained that they like to do a long walk once in a while to allow the children to see parts of their local area that they may not get the chance to do otherwise. It was a very long walk, in very hot weather, but it was totally worth it as the waterfall was incredible. We also got to walk up the mountainside and meet some of the tea leaf pickers that were working that day. We saw some truly beautiful sights and had an amazing day playing with all the children and bonding with the staff.
We returned back to school and said our goodbyes to everyone. It was a very emotional time and the teachers were especially sad to see us leave and all commented on how they had learnt so much from us and they wished we could stay forever!
We both learnt so much in Kenya and met some incredible people. It was an eye-opening experience and truly made us aware of how fortunate we are to have such an amazing school and community in Crossways. We hope that the teachers learnt a lot from us and put some of our teaching styles and strategies into action at the Wise Shepherd Academy.
We now look forward to welcoming a teacher from The Wise Shepherd Academy to Frome Valley in the autumn term.